Here are Five Questions with 2014 Cornwall Ontario City Council candidate Claude McIntosh.
1 – Tell the voters a bit about yourself. What skills and experience would make you a good candidate for Council?
I returned to the city in 1970 after passing up an opportunity to work in the United States. Have never regretted the choice. I retired from the Daily Standard-Freeholder on Dec. 6, 2012. I worked as a general assignment reporter, sportswriter, sports editor, city editor, associate editor and columnist. My many years of covering municipal politics have provided me with a wealth of knowledge about how local governments work. My community involvement over the years includes coaching minor hockey and mini-basketball, volunteer work with the Canadian Cancer Society, Heart and Stroke Society, Bereaved Families, Children’s Treatment Centre, Knights of Columbus and Cornwall Sports Hall of Fame.
2. In what ways could we improve Economic Development and how can we make Cornwall a more friendly city for small business
Since our family has owned a small business for 28 years, I have first-hand experience with the challenges and frustrations. The Heart of City funding program has helped small businesses and should be expanded. City departments, especially the bylaw and permit office, need to become more client-friendly. Cornwall took a big hit with the demise of its manufacturing sector but is bouncing back. The city is slowly carving out a more positive image to outsiders. We need to do more to promote Cornwall’s advantages such as clean air, easy access to Ottawa and Montreal, low crime rate and cheaper housing prices. Many outsiders still think of Cornwall as a “smelly mill town.” We need to get out the word. A university campus would enhance our image and be an economic bonanza.
3. What is your vision for arts and culture? Would you support the building of an Arts and Culture Centre in Cornwall?
The next council needs to take the proverbial bull by the horns when it comes to establishing an arts and culture centre instead of kicking the can farther down the road. One of the drawbacks with building a centre would be the cost of of buying a suitable site, servicing it and constructing a physical building. If this route is to be taken, we should look at the not-for-profit option, using the Cornwall Curling Centre model. Another option would be marrying an arts and culture centre to Aultsville Hall and St. Lawrence College.
The $80,000 the city spends on supporting the downtown art gallery could be shifted to the arts/culture centre.
4. Do you support freezing or lowering taxes? If so, where would the savings come from, and would you support reducing some services? If you do not support freezing or lowering taxes explain why?
Property taxes are the proverbial elephant in the room when it comes to municipal elections. Nobody runs on a promise to increase taxes. However, no one candidate can claim he or she will lower or freeze taxes. It takes a majority of council to pass a budget that will freeze or lower taxes. As a councillor, I would support starting from the bottom (zero decrease or less) rather than starting at the top and working down. Too many times “wish list” items taken out of the budget are disguised as “savings.” One thing I would never say is that a 2% tax increase is not enough. Cornwall has the ability to serve a population of 80,000 without any sizeable budget increase. We need to find more ways to grow out population to at least 55,000 in the next four years. This would help the bottom line.
5. What has been the biggest accomplishment at City Hall over the past four years OR what has been the biggest issue of concern at City Hall over the past four years?
For decades it was said that if “The Mill” closed Cornwall would become a ghost town. It didn’t happen. No question the economy took a hit when Domtar closed, but other economic doors have opened over the last four years. The city has experienced robust residential and commercial growth. I’m bullish on Cornwall’s future and hope to be part of the decision-making process.